By Mellow DeTray

Here’s a recap of the Normandy Park City Council meeting held on Tuesday night, Dec. 13, 2022:

Upcoming Vacancy on Council
The evening began with Councilmember Michelle Sipes-Marvin briefly joining the meeting remotely to let everyone know that she will be stepping down from her position after seven years on the Council. She said that her life has become too busy to continue to serve on the City Council, and she will stay on just through the January meeting.

Her term expires at the end of 2023, so City staff will begin the recruiting process. Any interested members of the public will have about 45 days to submit an application, followed by an interview process. Whoever is selected will still have to campaign and be elected in 2023, if they want to keep this seat beyond Dec. 31, 2023.

Mayor’s Report: Winterfest a Success, Winter Weather Warning
According to Mayor Hohimer, this year’s Winterfest was a great success. Participating local businesses said it was their best Winterfest ever. The reindeer was a huge hit, and the snowy weather was perfectly timed. Planning for the 2023 Winterfest begins next month, and ideas and feedback are welcome.

The State of Washington will be experiencing extreme low temperatures this month, and residents should be prepared. City Hall will be open as a warming station, if people lose power in their homes and need a warm place to go.

2023-2024 Biennial Budget & 2022 Budget Amendments Approved
Amendments to the 2022 Budget, including increasing the ordinary maintenance fund by $475,000, an additional $160,000 to meet contractual obligations for stormwater improvement, and $53,000 more for the capital improvement fund passed unanimously.

After many hours spent on each line item leading up to this vote, the 2023-2024 Biennial Budget was approved. The budget takes into account inflation, and includes a 2.5% increase on the cost of preschool. This increase is due to both cost of living wage increases and rent increase on the building. Despite the increase, operations of the preschool will remain largely subsidized by the City, and is considered important to the community.

Remote Meeting Updates
An ordinance to allow Councilmembers to participate in meetings remotely without any limitations did not receive the expected support at this meeting. While everyone agreed that Councilmembers joining Council Meetings remotely was acceptable in the short term during the Covid pandemic, some on the Council believe that being present in person is very valuable, a vital part of building relationships, and is part of the service to the community. Others argued that remote meetings are the way of the future in many companies, and that each Councilmember should be able to decide which method of joining the meeting works best for themselves and their families. In the end, Council voted to extend the current policy for six months, which will give time to discuss the long term policy while allowing Councilmembers to continue remotely joining meetings as needed until then.

Walker/Sequoia Creek Parcel Purchase
The City will acquire an important property for restoration of salmon habitat in an area that includes Walker and Sequoia Creeks. The project includes removal of two fish barriers and the house that is currently on the property, construction of a fish passage, culvert replacement, and pedestrian bridges, as well as interpretive signage. The vast majority of the cost is being covered by grants, with more expected as the project progresses, because of the importance of salmon habitat. This will be a place where residents can come and watch salmon in a healthy habitat. Another benefit of the project to the neighborhood is that it will help alleviate road closures due to flooding in the area.

Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in Burien. She has volunteered at many local establishments over the years, including the Burien Library, Burien Actors Theatre, and Hot Feet Fitness. After working for ten years at Burien Community Center, she moved on to teaching fitness classes and to work the front desk of a Burien yoga studio. For many years Mellow kept a moderately popular cooking & lifestyle blog, and she had a brief stint in political journalism during a local election. Clear and informative writing has always been a side hobby of Mellow’s and she looks forward to bringing you unbiased coverage of City Council meetings.